Claude Monet is considered to be the leading artist of Impressionism, a movement that was called after his now famous painting Impression Soleil Levant (1872).
It started during the very first exhibition of the ” Société anonyme coopérative des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs et lithographes “, held in 1874, around Boudin, Cézanne, Degas, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley. The exhibition opened on the sidelines of the Official Salon sought to oppose the Beaux-Arts system which rejected them.
“I sent a landscape made in Le Havre, from my window, the sun in the mist with a few ship masts pointing in the foreground… I was asked for a title for the catalog, it really could not pass for a view of Le Havre. I answered; “Put Impression”. It became Impressionism and the jokes flourished”.
The art columnist of the satirical newspaper Le Charivari, Louis Leroy, borrowed the word used in the title of Monet’s work in his article to relate “The Impressionists’ Exhibition” (April 25, 1874).
The term “impressionism” was claimed by these young artists who were looking for a way beyond the aesthetic concepts that predominated in academism, like the subordination of color over the line or academic subjects of the genre: still life, historic painting, genre scenes. They painted in the open air in natural light, brightened their palette, juxtaposed touches that reproduce the motif when viewed from a distance. These artists celebrated nature for itself – not as a backdrop for their paintings, but also their immediate surroundings of modern life, cities and train stations.
Admirers of Delacroix, who often used pure colors on his canvases, the Impressionists rarely mix colors using primaries and their complements. They abandon the dark tones of academic painting, brighten their palette to paint the effects of light on the landscape and desire to capture the colors that change according to the hours of the day and the seasons.
The Impressionists, and Monet in particular, renewed the pictorial genre of the landscape which was considered by academic painting as a minor genre. The figure is not necessary to give importance to the landscape, which becomes a subject in its own right, which can now be observed in its uniqueness.
With his unique artistic approach, Monet is the father of Impressionism, the pioneer of Abstraction and one of the most famous, beloved and admired painters of all time.
The Impressionists were the first artists of modernity looking to escape the framework that captured the artwork and isolated it from others, making the painting a closed world to be well separated from its neighbors. But the framework convention was so strong that it was impossible. An unframed painting looked like it was unfinished, and for that reason was not an easy one to sell. Removing the frame was not just a whim on the part of the Impressionists. It was their very conception of the painting as a continuous space towards the horizon that called for openness beyond all external borders that the frame emphasized.
William Seitz, curator at MoMA and curator of the Monet exhibition, has made a strong gesture, he removed the frames from the paintings. The immersive exhibition Imagine Monet realizes this dream of leaving the frame and thus invites the viewer to enter the painting.
Impressionism opposes itself to Realism. Monet’s technique is revolutionary. Indeed, he uses much brighter colors without placing them directly on the canvas but by making small touches of paint, which gives an illusion effect. You can’t see that in a museum because you need to be really close to the painting, Imagine Monet allows you to see the artwork up close, like never before.
Monet’s pieces are exhibited around the globe, from the Musée Marmottan in Paris to the Art Institute of Chicago. Some artworks even entered private collections, never seen by the public. Imagine Monet reunites famous series and masterpieces together for a unique exhibition.
We mainly understand the concept of the image from a conformist and strict perspective, limited by space and volume. This is the classic notion of the image which permeates our screens (television, computer, cinematic or simple projection). In all of these forms the viewer remains passive.
During the 1960s, the filmmaker and photographer Albert Plécy, a friend of the great Jean Lartique and Robert Doisneau (himself founding president of the famous association Les Gens d’images), had the idea of directing his research toward inventing a revolutionary process of projection.
In the mid-1970s, Albert Plécy invested in the gigantic abandoned quarries of Baux-de-Provence to create his Cathédrale d’images and two years later inaugurated his own audiovisual creation in Image Totale©. The culmination of two years of research, development and installation, Plécy’s Image Totale© was presented to the public in 1977.
The complete immersion of spectators in the work is reinforced by the synchronized diffusion of an accompanying musical soundtrack.
Having selected the zones, angles and sizes of the projected images, as well as pathways for the “integrated and immersed” spectator in the Image Totale©, Plécy transformed the notion of a passive viewer, seated in an armchair staring at images on a screen, to that of an active spectator, immersed in a universe of images where they are completely free to evolve and explore in their own way.
This Imagine Monet website is intentionally without videos as Albert Plécy wanted the image to be free of frame, released from any constraint. The Image Totale© is an immersive experience that must be enjoyed LIVE!
Cathédrale d’images, Leonard de Vinci (2011), directed by Annabelle Mauger
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